Whether you call it a grey divorce, silver splitters, or diamond divorcees, it all means the same thing – a divorce after about age fifty. A divorce is stressful and difficult at any stage of life, but for silver splitters, there is a unique set of challenges to overcome. There is often much more at stake, including retirement funds and accumulated property.
The divorce rate among Baby Boomers has almost doubled since the 1990s, and has tripled for couples over 65. With late-in-life splits becoming more and more common, it’s important to know the unique circumstances of a grey divorce.
What Are the Reasons For a Grey Divorce?
Quite often, older couples choose to end their marriages for the same kinds of reasons as any other couple. However, there are some factors that tend to crop up fairly regularly in a grey divorce, such as:
- You’ve grown apart. Sometimes, a couple finds that after their children have grown up and left home, they no longer have anything in common. This can also happen after both partners have retired and suddenly have much more time to spend together. They may discover that they don’t actually enjoy all that time in each other’s company.
- This is an extremely common source of conflict in any marriage, but the stakes are much higher for couples in their 50s and above. If the two of you are not on the same page regarding retirement planning, this can end up being a deal-breaker.
- Lifestyle changes. After retirement, sometimes one partner wants to remain as active as possible, but the other has different priorities. In some cases they find it impossible to get on the same page.
- It’s a cliché for a reason! It’s perfectly true that sometimes an older person chooses to find a younger partner for various reasons. Perhaps they want to feel younger themselves, or perhaps a younger spouse will be better able to share an active lifestyle.
What Are the Financial Concerns for a Grey Divorce?
Usually by this time you are well into your retirement planning, if you haven’t already carried out your plan, meaning that the usual financial challenges of a divorce are multiplied. After many years of sharing expenses and savings with a partner, adjusting to a single income can be difficult.
Besides the necessity of splitting your incomes, asset division also becomes more complicated than it usually is for a younger couple. You’ve had much more time to accumulate assets in the form of both money and property, and splitting them up can be a considerable challenge. You’ll need to itemize all of your financial assets and liabilities, including:
- Inheritance: Any money or property inherited by either or both of you, and any items or property purchased with that money.
- Homes: Any residences you own, either individually or jointly, including cottages or rental properties.
- Liabilities: All debts, joint or otherwise, need to be considered in the marital finances.
- Pensions: The Ontario Family Law Act sees your pension as property, and thus an asset that may be divided in a divorce.
- Other retirement funds: RRSPs and other retirement savings are also subject to division.
In addition to all this, don’t forget to factor in the cost of starting a new life. Finding a new place to live and replacing any furniture or other household goods is a big expense. You’ll also need to adjust your lifestyle according to your new budget. Consider taking a financial management course, or speaking with your financial advisor to learn how to live wisely within your new circumstances.
What Are the Challenges for Your Children?
Even if your children are grown and no longer living at home, your divorce will still be difficult for them. Adjusting to such an enormous change is a challenge, especially if they’re just getting started in their own lives. Just as with younger children, don’t involve them in any disagreements the two of you may have, and don’t try to enlist their help should the divorce go to court. All negotiations should happen exclusively between you and your ex, with the help of a lawyer and/or mediator.
Call Galbraith Family Law for Assistance
Here at Galbraith Family Law, we have extensive experience with grey divorces and will be happy to help you get through the unique challenges that come with ending a marriage after age 50. To get in touch with Galbraith Family Law, you can fill in the contact form on our website or give us a call. If you live in the Newmarket area, call (289) 802-2433; if you’re in Barrie, call (705) 302-1102.